Coronavirus UK news – Vaccine ALLERGY fears as NHS workers suffer reactions – plus London 'in tier 3 lockdown in days'

GPS can start booking Covid vaccine appointments within days with the UK set to get at least one million more jabs imminently.

The news comes as hundreds of OAPs received the vaccine after the UK became the first country in the world to start using the Pfizer vaccine. 

It has now emerged two more consignments of the vaccine will be delivered both next week and the following week – on top of the initial 800,000 doses. 

The Times reports that means the NHS should now have four million doses of the jab before Christmas.

Although the vaccine offers some light at the end of the tunnel, things could get worse before they get better for Londoners, with the capital on the brink of moving into tier 3 lockdown within a matter of days.

With data showing case numbers are continuing to rise in tier 2 London, Prof Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England, urged the government to put the capital under the strictest tier restrictions.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans…

  • Britta Zeltmann

    NHS IN WALES UNDER 'SERIOUS PRESSURE'

    Wales' chief medical officer has warned that there is "serious pressure" on the NHS in the country, particularly in South Wales and the Welsh Valleys, due to coronavirus.

    Dr Frank Atherton said increases in cases were being seen in 21 out of 22 local authority areas and the overall incidence rate for the country is now almost 350 cases per 100,000 people.

    There are 10 local authority areas in Wales that have rates of coronavirus higher than 400 cases per 100,000 people, which Dr Atherton described as "a worrying situation".

  • Britta Zeltmann

    39 MORE DEATHS IN SCOTLAND

    Scotland has recorded 39 deaths from coronavirus and 897 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today.

    It brings the coronavirus death toll in Scotland to 3,989.

    Ms Sturgeon said 102,372 Scots have now tested positive for the bug, up from 101,475 the previous day.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    HOSPITAL WARD CLOSED AFTER OUTBREAK

    A hospital ward has been closed to admissions after an outbreak of Covid-19.

    NHS Borders said an infection control team is dealing with the situation at Borders General Hospital, where there are eight confirmed cases among patients.

    A small number of staff members are currently symptomatic and are awaiting test results.

    Dr Ed James, consultant microbiologist, said: "A multidisciplinary team has been established to oversee the management of this outbreak and the situation will continue to be reviewed and monitored very closely."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    SKY'S THE LIMIT

    Beth Rigby has been hauled off air following Kay Burley's lockdown-breaking 60th birthday bender.

    It comes as Sky stalwart Adam Boulton retweeted a furious message from a viewer branding them "morons".

    The Sky political editor, 44, was taken off air along with Kay Burley, 59, north of England correspondent Inzaman Rashid and presenter Sam Washington while the company launch an internal investigation.

    All Sky staff are set to attend a meeting this afternoon following the incident.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'SELF DISCIPLINE NEEDED'

    Professor Chris Whitty said that despite the "self-discipline" shown so far by the British public, optimism over vaccines should not cause people to relax.

    "We're heading into spring of 2021 in much better shape than we were three or four months ago," he told the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

    "The first response would be to say 'well that's it, it's done' – that would be disastrous, because then actually the wave would come back incredibly quickly.

    "The alternative is to say 'actually, there is an end to this, we just need to get ourselves through this last period' and we really must be self-disciplined as we have been all the way through this year."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'TIER 3 EASIER TO UNDERSTAND'

    Tier 3 regulations are more effective because stricter rules are easier for people to understand, the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said.

    "We obviously don't design the tier system, that's a policy choice," he told a parliamentary committee, "but we try and give behavioural insights into what the impact will be.

    "One of the things that ONS (Office for National Statistics) told us recently is that adherence is much greater in Tier 3 than it was in lower tiers because people understood things better."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    XMAS SNITCHES

    Police have said they are "duty-bound" to investigate Covid breaches over Christmas amid fears of a "deluge" of reports.

    From December 23 to 27 three households will be allowed to form a temporary "bubble" during the five-day relaxation of Covid rules.

    A police source told The Telegraph that officers during the five-days will be "duty-bound" to investigate any calls about people who have breached the new rules.

    "Officers are going to be encouraged to be pragmatic in their approach to breaches but, of course, if someone calls police about their neighbours having three rather than two households round, you are duty-bound to investigate," he said.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    LONDON FACES TIER 3 RULES

    London faces being plunged into Tier 3 next week with the worst Covid rate in the UK.

    Officials fear it is now too late to turn the tide before the capital is locked into tighter restrictions, despite the Tier review not scheduled to take place until December 16.

    The city was placed into Tier 2 when England exited its national lockdown a fortnight ago – but rates of infection have skyrocketed since, meaning scores caught the virus during the lockdown.

    The city, which has 177 cases per 100,000 people, has now overtaken the north-east and north-west where most regions are subject to tier three rules.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'STEADY STREAM OF VACCINES'

    Professor Whitty said there would be "a steady supply" of vaccines from outside the UK over the next few months, but that the majority of vaccinations were still not likely to take place until 2021.

    Prof Whitty told the Commons Science and Technology Committee: "My understanding is there will be a steady stream of these vaccines as the manufacturers can make them and they can be shipped.

    "Even if the AZ (AstraZeneca) vaccine is authorised for use by the regulator, the MHRA, we're still looking towards next year before we have a significant amount of supply for those two vaccines."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    STRATFORD-ON-AVON BACKS AWAY FROM LEGAL TIER CHALLENGE

    Stratford-on-Avon District Council has backed away from a legal challenge of the Government's decision to place it under Tier 3 controls after the second national lockdown ended.

    The Conservative leader of the council Tony Jefferson had described the move as "arbitrary and irrational", with the local authority issuing a formal Judicial Review pre-action protocol letter to the Health Secretary.

    Having now had a response from the Government, Cllr Jefferson said: "Whilst we have not achieved the immediate result that we had hoped for, it was absolutely appropriate, with the information we had available at the time, that the district council raised the formal challenge with Government.

    "We are also conscious that any formal legal action challenging this decision would now not be heard before the review of tiers scheduled for December 16. At this stage, therefore, we are not pursuing further legal action."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'WIDER VACCINE CHOICE WILL BE NEEDED'

    Professor Whitty said that once the most vulnerable patients had been vaccinated "wider choices" would need to be made about who would receive treatment.

    "This disease is one that is very predictably much more dangerous than for older people and people with pre-existing health conditions," he said, speaking to the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

    "Once we've gone through that first list which takes us down to roughly 20 million people there are going to be some wider choices about where we go from there on."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'WE DO NOT KNOW HOW LONG VACCINE PROTECTION LASTS'

    Professor Whitty told the Commons Science and Technology Committees he did not yet know if re-vaccinating people would be necessary, but that health services should be in a position to do so.

    "We know that these are very good vaccines to provide short to medium-term protection," he said.

    "We don't know how long that lasts, it might last for a very long time, it might last for nine months.

    "I think it's more likely to be somewhere in between those two, in which case we may have to be in a position to re-vaccinate people, especially the most vulnerable."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    MEDICAL CHIEF EXPECTS 'PORTFOLIO OF VACCINES' NEXT YEAR

    Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said he expected to have a "portfolio" of several vaccines by the middle of 2021, but advised the rollout process should still proceed "carefully".

    He told the Commons Science and Technology Committee that he and Dr June Raine had been discussing issues "at 11.30 last night".

    "The aim would be to roll out this vaccine and any others that get a license and are effective and safe," he said.

    "We expect probably by the middle of the year to have a portfolio of three or four vaccines which we can actually use."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    NEW TEMPERATURE TEST STICKER LAUNCHED

    A sticker which can test your temperature and detect changes within seconds has been launched to help diagnose people infeced with coronavirus.

    The innovative 24p disc changes colour when applied to the forehead of someone who develops a fever.

    A cross on the The Visual Temperature Indicator (VTi) turns from green to red when it detects a temperature of 38 degrees or higher.

    The sticker, developed by UK firm Smart British Innovation Ltd, aims to provide an easy new way to monitor symptoms of coronavirus, flu and other conditions.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    SCOTS PUPILS MAY NOT HAVE TO SIT WINTER EXAMS

    Pupils in Scotland may not have to sit preliminary exams this winter after the Scottish Government scrapped next year's Higher and Advanced Higher tests.

    Rather than sitting exams next spring, children will instead be graded by teachers, with Education Secretary John Swinney saying they will be asked to provide a "holistic judgment" of performance.

    As a result, he said it is now a "judgement for individual schools" if youngsters will be required to sit prelims as part of this system.

    The Education Secretary told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Essentially, what we will be doing is providing the framework within which teachers can formulate their judgements, based on the ability of young people in carrying out the particular assessments and pieces of work that are specified by the SQA."

    Asked if all pupils will be expected to sit prelims after the winter break, he said: "No, that will be a judgement for individual schools and it should be a judgement for individual schools."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    VACCINE WARNING 'PRECAUTIONARY'

    Two NHS workers who received the landmark Pfizer Covid jab on V Day have suffered allergic reactions with a warning now issued.

    Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said: "As is common with new vaccines the MHRA have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday.

    "Both are recovering well."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    COVID SAFETY STRIKE IN GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT

    Security staff, cleaners and other support workers at a Government department headquarters have voted to strike in a dispute over Covid-related safety.

    The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said more than 90 contract staff at the Business Department in London voted in favour of industrial action.

    The workers have voiced concerns about being able to shield safely, said the union, which called for restrictions on the numbers of people allowed into the office in Westminster.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    OXFORD VACCINE: 'LOOKING AT ALL EVIDENCE'

    Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said regulators are looking at "every piece of evidence" on dosage for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

    Asked if both the full dose and half dose were being considered by regulators, Dr Raine told the Commons Science and Technology and Health and Social Care committees: "Our regulatory review is all-encompassing.

    "We will look at all available data that gives the insights to benefits and risks that are necessary to reach a position.

    "Clearly we have great interest into the possible reasons for the different doses having a different efficacy effectiveness readout. But the position is we will look at every piece of evidence."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    UK SCIENCE IN 'TOP RANKINGS' GLOBALLY

    Dr Raine said she could state "with confidence" that UK science was in the "top rankings" globally.

    "This country has brilliant scientists and their ability to move to areas of public health importance has been totally impressive," she told the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

    "We are in the top rankings. I say that with evidence from our Covid response. That was a gift from the UK to the world and has saved, probably, in excess of millions of lives.

    "I would say with confidence that UK science is top ranking and we can provide evidence for that."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    NO FIRM DATE ON OXFORD REVIEW

    Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said she was not able to give a "firm date" on when the review of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would be completed.

    She told the Commons Science and Technology and Health and Social Care committees: "I would not be able to give the committees a firm date, because the review is clearly a very active review.

    "There will be questions and deliberations that we will be pursuing in exactly the same way as we have done for Pfizer/BioNTech."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    JAB WARNING

    Two people who received the landmark Pfizer Covid jab yesterday have suffered allergic reactions with regulators now issuing a warning.

    NHS England confirmed both NHS workers affected are now recovering.

    The news comes as hundreds of OAPs received the vaccine after the UK became the first country in the world to start using the Pfizer vaccine. 

    Regulators have now warned anyone with a history of “significant” allergic reactions should not receive the jab.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    CALLS FOR TIGHTER RESTRICTIONS IN GERMANY

    Germany has reported a new daily record of 590 coronavirus-related deaths along with 20,815 new cases, as the country inches closer to a national lockdown after Christmas.

    Several German states moved closer to a hard lockdown on Tuesday as officials warned that continued high infections could overwhelm hospitals – and that too many people were ignoring existing pandemic restrictions.

    High-ranking government officials have also suggested a national hard lockdown for a two-week period after Christmas that would include extending school vacation by a week and closing all nonessential shops in the country.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    DIY DENTISTRY

    Some people have felt forced to pull out their own teeth because they have felt unable to access dental services during the pandemic, a watchdog has warned.

    A new report by Healthwatch England laid bare the stark consequences of people being unable to access dental services during the coronavirus crisis.

    Healthwatch England said it had received an "unprecedented" rise in calls and complaints about dentistry.

    And two extreme examples include people pulling out their own teeth.

  • Britta Zeltmann

    'CHRISTMAS RETHINK NEEDED'

    Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, urged ministers to "reset" advice over Christmas after warning that the UK faced the prospect of a "really bad" third wave of coronavirus infections.

    Prof Michie, a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I still think it is not too late, because transmission rates are going up, we are facing the potential of a really bad third wave come January and February unless we really take steps now to prevent that.

    "I think a bit of a reorientation, a bit of a reset on how people are thinking about Christmas, would be really good.

    "I know it would be tough, tough for a lot of people, but it is much better than losing loved ones."

  • Britta Zeltmann

    WALES REDUCES ISOLATION PERIOD TO 10 DAYS

    Wales has given the go-ahead to reduce the coronavirus self-isolation and quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days.

    It means that from Thursday, December 10, people will have to self-isolate for coronavirus for just 10 days as evidence syggests they are unlikely to be infectious as a contact after this time, Wales Online reports.

    The new rule applies to any individual who has been identified as a contact of someone with coronavirus or any travellers from non-exempt countries.

    From Thursday the self-isolation period will be the same for those who are identified as contacts and those who have tested positive for the virus.

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